“Just what is this world coming to….” (mom)
Park Seon-Duk frowned deeply while watching the TV. The shocking news of the ongoing serial murders was dominating both the online and offline world. Literally, everyone was talking about it – wherever a group of people gathered for some reason, gossip related to the murders would be discussed ad nauseam.
Some people were beginning to suspect that the perpetrator could very well be an ability user.
This just so happened to be the first murder case with so many victims since the ‘Hwaseong serial murders’, so understandably, the attention of the entire nation was focused on the progress of the investigation. (TL note at the end)
Park Seon-Duk spat out a long groan and grabbed her phone. Whenever she saw this kind of news, she couldn’t help but worry about her son.
She dialled the number, and soon enough, got to hear his voice on the other side of the line.
– “M, mom?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ji-Hyuk-ah, you got to work no problem, right? Did anything strange happen on the way?” (mom)
– “Nah, nothing happened. There’s nothing much that can happen, anyways.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “Euh… Uwaaaahck?!?!!!”
– “S, save me!!! Help!!”
Park Seon-Duk shivered from shock when several screams could be heard in the background.
“W, what was that just now?!” (mom)
– “Mm? Oh, that? Don’t worry. It’s nothing important.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
– “How is this not importannnnnnntttt…….”
– “You abominable devil…..!!!”
– “Argh, you guys are noisy!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Right after Park Seon-Duk heard her son shout out in irritation, she heard what kind of sounded like a chain of explosions going off. Then, the other side of the line quietened down rather eerily all of a sudden.
– “Mm. Mom? We can talk now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, well, uhm…. I just wanted to confirm that everything’s alright. I mean, there’s this ongoing serial murder case to worry about, and I feel so uneasy nowadays, too.” (mom)
– “Eii, mom. You shouldn’t be worried about me. Instead, you should worry about the other guy running into me, mom.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
When she heard that, she couldn’t help but agree.
There was no need to worry about a boy who would still crawl out from the depth of the Mariana Trench even if someone chucked him in there.
“I’m worried about Ye-Won, too. Honestly, I’m anxious.” (mom)
– “I’m pretty sure that the day my sister runs into the serial killer will be the day the serial killing case is resolved for good, you know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You’re still her older brother, so don’t say stuff like that! You should worry about your sibling a little more!” (mom)
– “We’ve moved our home, so there’s nothing to worry about, right? Which crazy serial killer would willingly enter our restricted area?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That is also true….” (mom)
– “Mom, it’s like you’re worrying more and more about minor things nowadays. You must be bored out of your mind, doing nothing at home the whole day. How about, you know, you opening up a new deli or something?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Let me rest for a little while longer. Your mom has a plan.” (mom)
– “Got it, mom. I gotta go back to work, so talk to you later.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Okay. Work hard, son.” (mom)
….Wait, did he say ‘work’?
What ‘work’ is he talking about? Besides all that, my lazy boy is actually working?
Just what kind of work is he doing? (mom’s stunned inner monologue)
“My comrades.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes exuded dangerous glint.
The aura oozing from his eyes, now burning in the light of madness and bloodthirst, possessed a rather scary effect that forced everyone to nearly wet themselves the moment they locked gazes with him.
When combined with the youth’s sharply creased and arching brows, his mighty aura grew even more overwhelming, to the point where a regular person might lose control of their bowels right then and there.
“I have been benevolent to you, ladies and gentlemen.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
‘Benevolent?! Kiss my a*s….’
Suddenly, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes became sharper.
“Huh, I can hear some of you busy badmouthing me over there!”
‘What a freakish sense of hearing!’
‘You don’t even want me to think, do you?!’
Yi Ji-Hyuk continued on while decisively ignoring all the voices of dissension.
“I did my best to respect your basic human rights. However, I cannot hide my profound grief after you replied my diligence with this horrible, heartbreaking action of defiance.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
*SFX for a pitiful bark of a small dog*
Yi Ji-Hyuk then kicked Oh-Sik, currently trapped under his foot and whimpering pathetically.
Oh-Sik was beaten to within an inch of his life for trying to betray his master. Not only that, almost every drop of Mana was sucked out of him, causing a massive decrease in his overall size, Now, he was no bigger than a small puppy. He lay on the ground while tears streamed out of his eyes.
“You’re also a part of this problem! A dog wouldn’t bite the hand that feeds it, yet you still think of rebelling against me after I fed you with all that pet food?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
….But, you only bought me one measly bag, though…. (Oh-Sik’s inner monologue)
Oh-Sik could’ve made a retort there, since he had been procuring his own meals by threatening the members of NDF until now. However, arguing about the finer points with someone who lacked common sense would only make the Ogre’s innards rot from frustration, so he gave up.
Well, he couldn’t speak in the first place, so there was that, too.
“I shall take full responsibility for forgetting the important fact that foundation for human rights and democracy is ‘strict education’. In that context, I now know that what you need is a strict and ‘even stricter’ education than ever before.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Behind Yi Ji-Hyuk, one could see various monsters with their heads buried in the sand; beneath his foot, Oh-Sik lay sprawling on the ground, sobbing with a sorrowful face.
Yi Ji-Hyuk turned his head around and glared at them, causing the monsters to flinch and shiver in fear.
Since there weren’t a lot of them here, he had deliberately weakened the influence of the slave seal, so they could make some decisions without bothering him. But, to think, they would go and cook up a dang coup d’etat instead!
And the wise old they once said that there was not one person, no, one monster, worthy of trust in this world!
On either side of him were Doh Gah-Yun, who hadn’t participated in the coup attempt for some reason, and Jeong Hae-Min, who had to play the teleport shuttle and thus couldn’t participate even if she wanted to.
And in front of them were the group of wannabe revolutionaries who had been decimated in the aftermaths of the coup that couldn’t even get going in the first place.
“I shall solemnly swear that, by ingraining this failure deep within my heart, I shall not fail again and make you go through an even stricter and even more tortu….. Ahem, I mean, even more thorough training regime! In other words, stricter discipline, and stern, no-holds-barred treatment! To make sure you, ladies and gentlemen, will not be able to harbour any other distracting thoughts!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
‘You son of a b*tch!’
‘What more do you want from us?!’
Desire to beat Yi Ji-Hyuk up to a bloody pulp boiled in the hearts of everyone laying defeated on the ground.
Also, they thought that he would’ve completely looked the part if he had grown a slimy handlebar mustache and was busy twirling it while cackling ominously.
However, there were two odd men among the crowd who couldn’t quite partake in the heat of the boiling resentment.
The first person was none other than Kitamura Ren, who had done nothing but still somehow was forced into the role of a member of the disciplinary committee. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place, in other words. And then….
‘What the, why am I even here….?’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Although he wanted to say it out aloud, even he could tell this wasn’t the right situation to tell the youth, “Leave me out of this.”
….And then, of course. The other person was Choi Jung-Hoon, standing a bit of a distance away and unable to interfere in any capacity whatsoever.
‘Indeed, what am I even doing here, I wonder?’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon maintained a distance that was neither too far nor too close, while he tried to figure out the purpose of his existence in this place. Meanwhile, Yi Ji-Hyuk picked up Oh-Sik by the scruff of his neck.
“Uh-whew. What should I even do with this one? I can’t even devour this b*stard….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Oh-Sik opened his clear, shiny eyes wide and began his kawaii attack!
“Oh my gosh!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Jeong Hae-Min cried out inadvertently after finding this appearance just too cute. Unfortunately for the Ogre, though – such an attack would only work on a sane-minded human being.
“Better lower your eyes or else!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The kawaii puppy dog eyes attack was ineffective!
Oh-Sik pouted and sullenly lowered his eyes.
“I didn’t kill you, but gave you food and a place to call home. Yet, you dare to betray me, your master?! Seriously! Have you forgotten how nicely I’ve been treating you?! Hah?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Treating me nicely?
Oh-Sik tilted his head this way and that.
Am I not understanding his words properly?
No, that can’t be it….
The creatures of demon world, like myself, don’t “hear” the words, but directly understand the meanings behind them. So, there’s no way I don’t understand him. (Oh-Sik’s inner monologue)
“What? What’s the up with that expression of yours, ah?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
This guy here, he….
If I argue with him, he’s gonna beat me up, but if I don’t argue back, then….
If I don’t argue, he’s gonna beat me up less, so I better not say anything. Argh, what’s the point of nitpicking with this guy, anyway? (Oh-Sik’s inner monologue)
Even as Oh-Sik’s shoulders drooped low, Yi Ji-Hyuk was busy glaring at the creature in a barely-contained rage.
“Haaaah. You ungrateful little….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Just how should he go about roasting this fool here, so that the infamy of today’s events spreads as far and as wide as possible, until he even got a segment on the local news bulletin?!
Seriously now, he went easy on the Ogre as well as everyone else since he wanted to research a bit more about Ether and all, yet what a bunch of ungrateful children they were!!
“A, actually….” (Seo Ah-Young)
Seo Ah-Young began a small but necessary fightback.
“The training is too difficult….” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Too difficuuuult?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes flipped open real wide while his jaw nearly dropped to the ground.
Too difficult? What? This?! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
“I mean, we’ve been fighting all this time without taking a single break, so…. And we couldn’t sense ourselves getting stronger, either….” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Ahh, so that’s what this was all about.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk began nodding theatrically.
“You all couldn’t sense yourselves getting stronger! Which means, you want to become stronger even faster, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Wowsers. You wanted to desperately become stronger so you tried to rebel against me. I know very well how you feel. No, really. That feeling of commitment, ready to throw everything away in order to become stronger.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“N, no, hang on a minute! That’s not….” (Seo Ah-Young)
What?! How did things end up in this direction? (Seo Ah-Young’s inner monologue)
Now beset with an encroaching sense of fear, Seo Ah-Young urgently shifted her gaze towards Choi Jung-Hoon. And when she saw his pitying expression, she was overcome with a realisation that she might’ve said something she shouldn’t have in the first place.
“You were all so desperate, yet I failed to notice it! In that case, I must meet your expectations! I shall make you really strong!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Noo! Hold on, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk!! That’s not what I meant!!” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Don’t you worry about a thing. Anyways, since you staked your lives in order to become stronger, there’s nothing you won’t do, am I right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Just who staked their lives here?
I certainly ain’t one of them!! (Seo Ah-Young’s desperate inner monologue)
“I didn’t stake my life, though?!” (Seo Ah-Young)
“It’s only obvious that the failed revolutionaries would be skinned alive during the interrogation!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You heartless devil!!” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Rest easy, for I am a truly magnanimous being. That is why I shall bestow unto you a fabulous opportunity.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Sooo, let’s see now….
The place I can connect from here is….
Hmmm…. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Ending his ‘Scan’, Yi Ji-Hyuk began deliberating. Since it wouldn’t do at all if the place he chose was too dangerous, he had to be careful when selecting the most suitable candidate….
Then, from Yi Ji-Hyuk’s right hand, considerable amount of Mana poured out and drew a circle full of mystical runes, before a huge black hole opened its maws there.
“Allow me to present you with an opportunity to become much, much stronger!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seo Ah-Young’s body involuntarily shivered after instinctively sensing the chillingly-real madness in his voice.
What could that black hole possibly be?
“Well, those who wish to become stronger, step inside. Don’t be shy.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What if you don’t want to become stronger?!” (Seo Ah-Young)
“You only have two choices!! Either you become stronger, or die like a dog!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Hey!! Even SAT questions have four choices to choose from, you know!!” (Seo Ah-Young)
It’s five, actually.
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s lips formed a smirk.
“Do not worry. You will become stronger for sure. As a matter of fact, you will all be surprised by the rapid growth of your strength. Of course, there is a tiny little bit of price to pay, but, well, that much shouldn’t be….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk softly muttered “As long as you don’t die….” at the end of his sentence. But that soft murmur still managed to land with vengeance in the ear canals of everyone listening.
They all felt chills run down their spine.
“Y, you want us to walk in there?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Of course. You think I opened this thing so you can admire its beauty or something?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What will happen if we enter there?” (Seo Ah-Young)
“A brand new world will open up right before your eyes.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It was as he said. He wasn’t exaggerating one bit. After all, Yi Ji-Hyuk was a forthright man, wasn’t he!
While carrying the airborne warp gate with one hand, he sneakily approached the ability users.
Overcome with the instinctive fear, the users began hastily running away.
“Never!! I will never goooo!!”
“What the hell is the meaning of this sh*t?!”
Yi Ji-Hyuk clicked his tongue in annoyance.
Ah, how tumultuous the road of education sometimes can be!
I’m sincerely trying to make them stronger, yet they hate it so much…. Now I kinda understand why teachers wanna kill themselves sometimes….
Oops, shouldn’t be wasting time like this. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Several black tentacles extended out from Yi Ji-Hyuk’s body and began picking up each and every escapee, before throwing them inside the warp gate. It was as if the tentacles were busy picking ripe apples from the trees and throwing them into a collection basket.
Terrified screams continued to resound out one after the other.
After throwing every ability user in the gate, Yi Ji-Hyuk surveyed his surroundings. The remaining ones were….
The enslaved monsters, Jeong Hae-Min, Doh Gah-Yun, and….
“W, why are you looking at me for?! I am a powerless normal person, you know!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Sure, you are indeed not an ability user.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon desperately tried to argue his case.
“Doesn’t matter what my label is, I won’t be of any help even if I go over there!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Still, it might be a little more helpful for them, if you did follow, don’t you think so? One more pair of hands sure could prove to be a difference, after all….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“If, if I’m not here, then who would brew coffee for you?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“A, and, who’ll squeeze fresh juice, too?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Hmmmmm!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“In order for you, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, to enjoy a comfortable and good life, my continued existence here is a must, you see! S, so! Please, think this over carefully!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Indeed, his words were correct.
When Yi Ji-Hyuk turned around while licking his lips, Choi Jung-Hoon plopped down to the floor as if all the accumulated tension leaked out of him in an instant. Also, unexplainable sorrow rushed in, as well.
Even though he was trying to survive here, the pride of being one of Korea’s top elite was shattered into tiny little pieces as he realised he just volunteered his services as a lowly cook.
What was the meaning of his life now?
Oh, dear mother….
“By the way, where did everyone go?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“I told you. To a brand new world.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“A… brand new world?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yes, to a wonderful place. A beautiful place, indeed!
A place so wondrous that, when they return, they would think Earth is paradise in comparison!
But… they won’t die over there, right?
Hmm. They might die.
….Argh, who cares. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk whistled in leisure and lay down on the beach chair.
I mean, what is life? It’s just a game of chances, man.
If they survive and get stronger, they’ll thank me for it. But, if they die over there, well, they won’t get to see an even worse situation unfolding this side, so they should still thank me for that, too.
Don’t you think so?
< 81. What will happen if we enter there? (1) > Fin.
(TL: The “Hwaseong serial murders” was an unsolved series of killings that took place between September of 1986 and April 1991 in the city of Hwaseong. There were ten identified victims, all killed with the same M.O. The case remains very famous in Korea to this day, and it even inspired several movies and Kdramas, the most recent one being OCN’s Tunnel.)
(TL: Remaining amount till the next sponsored chapter: $25.)